As someone who uses email a lot, Posterous was the best way for me to get an online, no fuss site up and running. Writing and keeping up with comments on Scepticemia takes up a large amount of my free time and since blogging is just a hobby for me, Posterous was the ideal no-frills, no time-demands system for me to keep the things that I found were not a good fit for this blog or were too long to Tweet about.
Image Credits: Danny Brown
However, now, with the news that Twitter has acquired Posterous, I am having second thoughts on investing more time and effort into my Posterous sites.
I had been an early adapter of Posterous and hence I managed to hog some sweet URLs which are no longer available with the traditional services like WordPress or Blogspot (like http://pranab.posterous.com which hosts http://blog.pranab.in for now). another great thing about Posterous was that I could throw anything at it in the form of an emailed attachment and the site would take care of formatting it and fitting it in the post. That was the best part about it. I could post audio, video, images, documents – any damn thing without any fuss.
Another thing that made me a Posterous fan boy was their fabulous support. All I had to do was drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and they would spring to my assistance within hours. Rich or Suyash were extremely graceful in accommodating the queries of a tech-retarded blogging enthusiast that was myself. I am yet to receive such great support for a free service! (Mind it http://wordpress.com, where I host Scepticemia, also has fantastic support. But wordpress revels in the glory of its forums and user driven problem solving. Also, its been around and stable for so long that almost someone or the other has asked the question that plagues me and searching the forums often does the trick. The few times I did have to contact support at wordpress were regarding the payment issues which were time-related and they were VERY quick to respond to my queries.)
So yeah, despite my low usage of the service, I loved Posterous.
But now with the news that Twitter has acquired Posterous, I am afraid that it might be the end of the road for a great product. It had long been a Microsoft ploy to buy out a competing start up and stifle it thereafter until it died a natural but untimely death. Twitter did that very successfully with Tweetdeck, a fantastic service that was central to many people’s Twitter usage. With Posterous wooing the crowds with the “share on all your networks” with just one email, it was just a matter of time before Posterous went big with the people like me, who have multiple online outlets but find it a drag to spend too much time redirecting their posts manually everywhere.
another thing that worries me (and a lot of other concerned commenters on the Posterous anouncement post) is that the FAQs that they have launched post-transaction are rife with the suggestion that Posterous is going to get shut down some time in the future.
One of the commenters has probably got it right. The developers might not close shop outright and instead close new registrations, while keeping the servers running for the existing users. However. they just let the system rot and not address the bugs that inevitably keep arising time and time again. Then, one day, something big goes wrong that requires a lot of resources in terms of money and manpower to fix and instead of fixing that, they go around closing shop, blaming it on the bug. A similar fate awaited the much vaunted Dreamhostapps services that recently closed shop. DHApps was, in my opinion, an unsustainable model to grab a few new customers – they gave away unlimited storage and bandwidth for a few chosen apps with certain user restrictions (like uploads, FTP access, etc.). But it was a great service for people like me with low demands. The service was abandoned by the parent company soon after launch and was then closed for new registrations quite some time ago and then slowly set about waiting for it to die. And then finally a few weeks ago they just pulled the plug on the system, and apologized to the users and asked them to take their contents elsewhere.
Well, that’s the risk of using a start-up product.
That is why more and more people prefer sticking to their own hosted version of content management system (Joomla or Drupal or WordPress) or even hosted Blogspot or WordPress where they are reasonably sure that 5 years down the line the service will still exist as a standalone product.
However, I can see what Garry, Sachin and the rest of the Team Posterous stand to gain. They made a fantastic product and the takeover by Twitter signifies that they were right in making and marketing Posterous. They deserve the money and fame for this and joining Posterous was the sensible thing to do economically and otherwise.
But it leaves us users in a bit of a lurch, and the ominous FAQs and opaque plans for the future leave us worried that Posterous is fated to die an untimely death.
Some of the users are trying to be more optimistic and saying that Posterous is too large a service with too many potential benefits to shut down just like that, but still I think Twitter’s acquisition history leaves us all a little worried about the future.
So, I have decided to shift my Posterous blogs, or rather, not start any new projects on Posterous for the time being. While I do not like the cluster-fuck that is Tumblr, I am looking for newer alternatives to Posterous. At the same time, I am worried of joining hands with another new start up that is going to leave me in a lurch and move out once it hits the big business.
But for now, dear reader, what other alternatives do I have to Posterous (not counting Tumblr, which, unfortunately, might be where I have to eventually head out).